Excursion 4: Detours

Friday, Aug 1, 2014

We don’t have much energy and seem to be getting a slow start, after some earlier morning adventures; visiting a doctor for Pilar and eating breakfast at a fancy bakery that reminded me so much of Betsy.


Doctor’s waiting room.


Just a few of the delicacies at the bakery.


Transported to the south of France at the fancy bakery.


Noticing the layered architecture on the way back.


Street vendors leave candy hanging on car mirrors hoping to make a sale.


We stop off to buy stamps and then retrace our steps on the metro to get to our starting point on the Contorno for the day.

It’s later in the day and hotter than usual and as we cross the overpass it occurs to me that we always walk on the interior side of the Contorno. Pilar sees a stairwell leading down to the outer side and suggests we take it. The scale of the buildings feels larger on this side of the Contorno. There are a number of people of the street, though it seems most of the buildings are warehouses. We pass one huge building filled with what look like rugs.

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We continue down the street, descending below another overpass. I start to get the feeling that we might be deviating from our course a bit, but also feel very attracted to the place we’re headed and figure we can follow this a bit further to see what’s there. We get tangled in a wonderful mess of ramps, and overpasses with a combination of stalled construction, green trees and plant life, a river and bridge. It’s a whole network of streets highways, a river, and railroad tracks, that feels like a chaotic epicenter of sorts. This bizarre intersection seems to have fallen off the grid into a grand confusion of “in between” that actually has quite a nice energy to it. A few people move through the space but overall it feels quite empty (unlike most open public spaces that are occupied by people living there.)

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There’s one triangle in particular that I gravitate to and consider the possibilities of returning here to do some kind of intervention. Above the river and below the highway and railroad tracks is another plateau of sorts. There’s a lot of graffiti in the area, with more fill-ins that we’ve seen so far throughout the city. I see an open area in the foundation that seems like it would be the perfect place to camp out, yet it appears vacant except for two lizards hanging out in a patch of sun, (I’m not sure they’re real at first, until one starts to move).

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I catch up with Pilar on the other side of the river where’s she’s observing a whole house constructed out of found materials. We realize we’ve veered off of the Contorno and start to make our way back under another overpass towards a structure completely covered in plants. We realize that the whole walk thus far has been on a street other than Contorno and we’re already quite tired and now have to back track. We pass a net of ethereal metal flecks suspended on fishing line over a sidewalk parking lot that feel almost magical.

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By the time we finally make it to Contorno, we’re exhausted and ready to sit down for a beer. It’s Friday afternoon after all, so why not? We resolve to stop at the first place we find. We see an enclosed area with seats that looks like a bar that’s just setting up, but Pilar asks and they say they’re open. It looks like a house where they set up the front enclosure as a cafe/tavern with drinks and barbecue. For our table on the patio, through a window I can see a child and an older man sitting inside the house watching tv. Just outside of this window there’s a music machine painted with portraits of women. We thoroughly enjoy the space and our beers and sit making drawings for a while. I try out my new pen of four colors and Pilar tries some of the grilled treats, steak & chicken wrapped in bacon (after a late lunch I was happy with beer and a taste of her delicacies and extra crispy farofa.)

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After a nice little break. continue on our way, with the added incentive that we can soon stop at the next place for another beer. It doesn’t seem like there’s all that much of interest on this portion of the Contorno, a number of pharmacies and hospitals, a gym and construction site, and eventually we make it to another more lively little luncheonette close to our ending point “Av Amazonas” where we stopped for one more beer. This seems like a central transportation hub during rush hour, lots of buses and people hustling and bustling. There are a large group of people, waving yellow 45 flags, for the local political candidate Aécio Neves running for president in Oct.

From there Pilar navigates us back towards home on R. Martim de Carvalho passing through what’s listed as the “gastronomical area” on the map, which is actually quite a ritzy part of town that doesn’t seem to have many food options for us. I stop into a pharmacy to look for a thicker moisturizer since the climate is very dry. It’s difficult to navigate through such a wide variety of unfamiliar products, but eventually I opt to try something. As I go to pay, a young boy sifts through lots of change in a basket with the clerk. I’m not sure if he’s trying to buy something or exchanging the coins for bills. As I’m leaving the store, I see him again outside counting bills, wearing pants where one of the legs was long and the other cut into shorts. Whatever it is he’s doing, he seems very young to be out in the street alone so late.

We continue on our way, and stop into Maletta for a bite to eat and drink at our Arcangelo Cafe, the one place there that accepts our JA.CA tickets, before heading home exhausted by 9pm. What an epic day!

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